The hotel formerly known as Rydges Cronulla has emerged from an identity makeover as Eventhouse Cronulla. It is still in the same spot, with the beach just down the hill, and the main shopping mall just up the hill. There are a plethora of restaurants, cafes and bars to eat and drink at nearby, the Cronulla esplanade to stroll along, and the sea to look at or dive into. It's an excellent spot for a Sydney staycation if you don't happen to live in the Shire, or even if you do. Two of our fellow guests, an older couple, live at Gunnamatta Bay, about a five-minute walk away. They won a night here in a raffle last year, and liked it so much they came back. We only stay one night too, but we can see the appeal.
Whoever was in charge of gussying the place up has done a good job. The brief appears to have been breezy beach-side hang with vintage touches and lots of wicker. Bikes for guests to use are stationed outside the main entrance, and the foyer is a white, light-filled atrium hung with an installation of wicker lampshades and dotted with potted palms. There's a playful element – stepping into the lift we are greeted by a life-sized surfer who turns out to be photoshopped onto the back mirror-wall. Our nine-year-old is impressed, also by the giant inflatables in the pool, the spa, and getting to use a cocktail shaker for the first time.
It could qualify for a very snug, self-contained apartment, with a separate double bedroom, a compact kichenette with microwave, bar fridge (separate to the mini bar), crockery, cutlery and a table to eat at. The living area has a sofa and comfy cushioned faux-wicker, and the balcony has views down the endless beach across to Kurnell and out to sea. The size of the telly is thrilling for both father and son, and a tray of DIY tiki cocktails is delivered complete with a fruity kids mocktail to shake up. On the downside, the double bed is not very big and the bedroom door handle is coming off, but it's fine for a short stay.
On a Saturday night, we are almost the only ones dining at Red Radish, the hotel restaurant, but I'm not sure why. Sure, the Scandi-style fit-out works better for breakfast than dinner, but the food is terrific, from the beautiful Pambula oysters to the sculptural king salmon poke and the organic lamb shoulder with smoked eggplant, pomegranate and yoghurt. It's a good cut above expectations, and if I was local I'd come back. Breakfast the next morning is also well above average, and well-patronised by guests.
It's a great spot if you like the beach. Highlights for us are poking about in the rock pools finding starfish, anemones and crabs; swimming laps before breakfast in the Cronulla Beach ocean pool a two-minute walk from the hotel; and watching an exciting women's surf kayak race from the Esplanade. We also take in a Cronulla Sharks game, and a paddle-boarding lesson on Gunnamatta Bay, where the clear, gentle water and sunshine makes it feel like the summer Sydney never quite had this year. With a dip and more rockpool exploring at the gorgeous Nuns' Pool (the actual pool, not the cafe), there is never a dull moment. We'll have to come back to take the bikes out for a spin, catch the ferry to Bundeena and go to the cinema next door to the hotel.
If your fancy runs to the posh, five-star experience, this is not it. As a family looking for a relaxed, kid-friendly place to stay, with lots to do in the area but not far from home, it gets the big thumbs up from us.
Eventhouse Cronulla, 20-26 Kingsway, Cronulla, NSW. Doubles start from $199 mid-week. Phone 9527 3100. See eventhouse.com
The central location and views out to sea
Bed could have been a bit bigger